The Intellectual Activist
An Objectivist Review
Ayn Rand: Anthem
Categories: Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand, known for her famed novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, penned a novella entitled Anthem. Anthem takes a look at the dark possibilities when the collective mindset takes over and the individuality of humankind is eliminated. Rand draws from her personal experiences living in communist Russia and brings them to life in this futuristic dark age tale.


Anthem begins with Equality 7-2521 telling his story up to this point in time. Equality speaks only in collective terms such as we, they, and us. He never refers to himself as an individual. Equality was raised in the same was as all of the other children, away from family in a collective home. He tells readers of his “curse”. His ability to learn quickly and ask too many questions. He was good at science and wanted to spend his days learning. Unfortunately, that was not how the collective worked. Equality would be assigned the job he would do for the rest of his existence. His Life Mandate was to be a street sweeper. Equality accepts his street sweeping job and believes this is his penance for wanting more.

While on the job, Equality discovers a tunnel. Despite knowing that it is forbidden, he enters the tunnel and finds metal tracks. Realizing that the tunnel is from the Unmentionable Times of the past, Equality begins sneaking away from the community to hide away and conduct experiments in the tunnel. While cleaning one day, Equality meets a girl, Liberty 5-3000. She works in the fields and is beautiful with dark eyes and golden hair. He finds he thinks of her often and believes this is wrong. He knows he should wait to be assigned a woman at the Time of Mating. He confesses to her that he thinks of her a lot and even tells her that he has given her another name. He calls her “The Golden One”. She confides that she thinks of him as well and has given him another name also. She calls him “The Unconquered”.

Time passes and Equality makes progress with his experiments. He discovers electricity and decides he needs to notify the World Council of Scholars as to his findings. Instead of believing as Equality does, that this is a great gift to mankind, the Council is disgusted with his actions and sentences him to be punished. Equality takes his discovery and flees into the Uncharted Forest beyond the city where he knows he will not be pursued. The Golden One follows him and they make a life for themselves in the mountains. They rediscover individuality and give each other new names. Equality is now Prometheus and Liberty becomes Gaea. They start a family and learn about the past. Together they make plans for a future where they will regain the knowledge of the past.

Although Rand wrote Anthem while taking a break from working on The Fountainhead, the book would not be published in the United States until 1946. Whether Rand was simply ahead of her time in addressing the negatives of communism or society was just burying its head, Anthem addresses the real fears of those who lived under the collective-minded regime of communism.

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